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CONNECTED CULTURE Blog by Jerry Allocca

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How to Sell Digital Marketing to Your Boss

connected-culture-blog-listeningWhile you’re probably already convinced that your organization needs to increase its digital marketing efforts this year to stay relevant and grow, you may find that you have to convince others that the additional investment in time and money to do so will offer sufficient ROI.

How can you best present the benefits of digital marketing to your boss and other decision-makers? We’ve provided five essential tips for getting them enthusiastically on board:

1. Create a Comprehensive Plan

Jumping into digital marketing without a plan is akin to starting a long journey without a map. To best share with others what you’re planning to do, it’s essential to breakdown digital marketing into key components. These include:

  • Website and landing pages
  • Blog
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media
  • SEO
  • Analysis and Reporting

You’ll also want to define your target audience and map out a strategy for how each component can be integrated into the plan. Use visual tools such as charts, spreadsheets, and calendars to help explain the plan and to keep you on track once you get the green light to get started.

2. Have a Realistic Budget

Digital marketing isn’t free advertising. It takes time and money to manage all of the elements of your plan. To prevent unrealistic expectations on the part of others, you’ll want to allocate accurate amounts for everything from website maintenance and Facebook ads to hiring an outside SEO agency and content writers.

Very few organizations can execute a comprehensive digital marketing plan solely in-house. So, it’s important to clearly determine what you can successfully tackle and what needs to be outsourced to create a viable budget.

3. Create Specific Goals

One of the most common objections heard when it comes to digital marketing is that it doesn’t actually offer any “real” value. This is why it’s so important to establish goals for your plan early on. A well-thought out and executed plan will help in business development and support other marketing and sales efforts. Therefore, goals should be aligned with overall company strategic goals. They should also be specific enough to be clearly measured.

4. Detail the Potential ROI

Showing potential ROI is vital in getting others excited about digital marketing. This means explaining its measurable value. Of course, it’s ideal if you can prove a direct financial return. However, it’s more likely that your digital marketing efforts will contribute to more leads that can eventually be converted into more sales. This doesn’t devalue the importance of digital marketing. Rather, it’s simply necessary to connect the dots carefully when trying to get the buy-in from others.

In may be beneficial to compare the ROI of your digital marketing plan to other marketing efforts such as print collateral, advertising, and telemarketing. When you look closely at the costs for each, you may find that digital marketing offers the highest ROI.

5. Give Examples

It’s a good idea to show what your competitors are doing when it comes to digital marketing. Find several good examples of organizations within your industry that are getting it right. Be able to explain what they’re doing and why it’s working for them. These examples may be the most compelling aspect of your pitch.

Getting buy-in for increasing digital marketing efforts requires a detailed plan that can be effectively communicated and executed. With expectations clearly set and a strategy for measuring results, you’ll have the ability to show real ROI that will turn doubters into enthusiastic believers in the value of digital marketing.

Question:

What can you add to this list?

 

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Backlink Analysis (Part 2): Removing Penalties

In our last post we discussed how to conduct a preliminary backlink analysis, along with how to determine if your site has received a penalty from Google or if the penalty is only directed at the links pointing toward your site. In this post, we’ll examine what to do if a penalty is impacting your site’s visibility in search engine results.

If the penalty is affecting your site’s ranking, you’ll need to address the backlink profile in a more urgent way. Use your spreadsheet to identify the sites that are having a negative impact on your site and attempt to contact the owners of these sites to take your links down or add a no-follow tag to the links. Some sites will ask that you pay for link removal. Google has advised site owners that they do not have to pay for link removal, and to simply disavow these links.

Using the link disavow tool in Google Webmaster Tools is easy—sometimes too easy. Remember that you should only disavow links after trying to have them removed naturally. Once they’re gone, you can’t get them back, so make sure to use this tool carefully. Once you’ve disavowed your troublesome links, you can write a reconsideration request and submit it to Google. If they deem your request sufficient, they’ll lift the penalty.

Even if your site has not been penalized or doesn’t seem to be at risk, there are quite a few benefits to conducting regular link analyses. You can see opportunities to improve the link profile, and by using third party tools, you can see how your competitors’ link building strategies are progressing.

Links are an important part of any site’s cyber footprint. Make sure your link profile is a benefit, and not a hindrance, to your site. If you have further questions, we can help you make positive changes. Contact Connected Culture to learn more about backlink analysis today.

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WordPress SEO: Comparing SEO Plugins

wordpress-logo-stacked-rgbAnyone using WordPress understands the effectiveness of a good plugin. However, when it comes to SEO plugins for WordPress, it is a different story altogether. There are numerous plugins to choose from and it’s hard to know which ones actually work best.

There are three main plugins which hold the most downloads for SEO, and we’ve taken each for a test drive. If you’re thinking of optimizing your WordPress blog and need an SEO plugin to help you do so, consider one of these picks:

1. Yoast

Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins on WordPress today. Yoast is integrated into the platform and allows a user to improve his or her own SEO efforts manually by offering flexible features that require important user input. The user types their focus keyword into a text box, from which Yoast evaluates the post for keyword density, secondary and tertiary keywords, placement, and more. Colors are used to indicate optimization levels; red means the post isn’t very well optimized, while green indicates sufficient use of the keyword. It also establishes permalinks and sitemaps, making it easy for the user to focus on the more manual aspects of SEO. All in all, a good plugin for anyone with a strong grasp of SEO knowledge who wants manual control over optimization.

2. All in One SEO Plugin

The All in One SEO Plugin automates several aspects of optimizing a post for the user. For instance, it automatically generates a title and a meta description. The user can still enter the title manually, however. Preferences can be set for how the plugin should approach different elements of the post, and it will remember the settings for the next use. Perhaps the best part of the All in One SEO Plugin is that it links to Google+; Google Authorship has become such a big influence on SEO with the latest update that it is essential an author has these settings enabled. Good for users who have intermediate skills in SEO.

3. SEO Ultimate

SEO Ultimate allows a lot of really cool features like automatic linking. For instance, if the user types “about me” in a post, the plugin can be set up to automatically link to the “About” page. This plugin is best for those who want to automate the optimization process as much as possible. While it doesn’t help with keyword density as much as the others, there is no better tool for ensuring links are in place. Good for beginners in SEO.

These are just three SEO plugins available. There are numerous others, but no single plugin is any more effective than the rest. The best way to approach these plugins is to evaluate what each and every one of them does, their strengths and weaknesses, and measure how they fit in with the goals your blog is trying to accomplish. For instance, a travel blog might benefit more from links and social media sharing than it would from keyword usage, while a niche blog would heavily rely on keywords. It is possible to use these plugins in tandem with one another, but that generally complicates things too much.

Every SEO plugin for WordPress has its own strengths and weaknesses. Evaluating the specific purpose it is needed to serve will help you select the one that’s best for your site as well as your marketing strategy.

Question:

Which SEO plugin do you use for wordpress, and what’s been your experience with it?

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How to Influence Local Search Rankings

Chicago map closeupAchieving high local search engine rankings requires a delicate balancing act between giving Google what it wants, yet stopping before you over-saturate your site with SEO. Plus, this isn’t normal SEO – this is SEO for a specific geographic area only. The truth is that there is still a lot of mystery behind search engine results, but there are some well documented ways that you can boost your local web rankings.

Here is a game plan for how to best allocate your local marketing time and efforts to come out above your local competition.

On Page Keywords

Keyword placement is critical for any website, but their influence on local rankings is even more important. Start by ensuring that the site’s home page contains all of your main keywords, ideally ones that are also in your domain name. Place terms in the first paragraph and the top heading, but avoid using them too often, which can actually cause listings to fall. But most importantly, include some indicators of what area your business serves. This may mean by saying that you do XYZ service in XYZ location. It can also mean listing service areas (but don’t list too many – stick to the general metro areas!). This signals to a search engine both relevancy for a keyword phrase and for a location.

Local Listing Optimization

After optimizing pages for your primary keywords, ensure that you stake your claim on the local market by including your contact information, business name, city and state prominently on your site, and on local listings. This final step is the key to increasing your local exposure by letting search engines know you are a major player in the area. Not sure which directories you need to be in? These are the “musts”: Google+/Google Places, Yahoo! Local, Bing Local, Yelp!, and any industry specific directories that are locally based. There are plenty of others, but these are where you should focus your attentions first.

Link Love

Inbound links to your website have been a major ranking indicator for years. These days, it’s not just the number of links you have, but also the quality of the links that determines how much they make or break your website’s credibility. Links from credible review sites (e.g. Yelp!), influential city establishments (e.g. Chambers of Commerce, business associations, universities, etc.), local media and bloggers will boost your listing, as they establish your site as an authoritative source of information. Start connecting with these types of sites and look for ways to secure exposure, establish partnerships, or build meaningful relationships with influencers – social media should be your first starting point.

Social Cues

Speaking of social media as a starting point, this is an essential part of local SEO success. While social media activity isn’t a leading ranking factor, it can still have quite an impact. Creating and maintaining a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social accounts can increase your web presence, create additional links to your site and serve as a major traffic driver, so invest the time in cultivating a strong social presence.

Rave Reviews

Speaking of reviews, websites offering products or services should strive to get good ones on popular review sites, such as Yelp!, Angie’s List, or others specific to your industry. Facebook reviews also hold quite a bit of weight. Even bad ones can be turned into a positive experience if you contact the poster and offer to rectify their issues and respond promptly. These review sites work to boost your site in two ways. First, they link to your site and create an inbound link. Secondly, they mention your website name, thus boosting your web presence.

Question:

What other ways do you try to create more opportunities for exposure for your locally-focused business?

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Digital Marketing Trends That Put You In “The Know”

Development of new businessDigital marketing is evolving at a breakneck speed that’s leaving many marketers behind. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but with an understanding of the latest trends that are driving digital marketing, you can stay on top of how to engage target audiences online and convert them into loyal brand advocates.

We have just released a new research study entitled “5 Digital Trends that Could Make or Break Your Job.” We encourage you to download it for FREE today.

Our study is full of the latest statistics and numbers that will give you real insight into what consumers want and expect from organizations today. You’ll also get tips and ideas that will certainly help you as you navigate through the often murky, ever-changing landscape of digital marketing.

Here’s just a glimpse of what you’ll find when you download the study:

Changing Marketing Trends

The trends are clear. If your company is not yet involved in digital marketing, you’re already behind the competition. The question now is no longer “Will my company utilize digital marketing?” but “What will our digital marketing strategy be?” The trends in this industry change faster than any other thanks to modern advances in technology. It makes a good grasp of digital trends vital for anyone who works in this field.

What Determines Branding?

Take branding as an example. There was a time when a company name, logo, and product design were the primary influencing factors that determined a person’s view of a brand. With a good Super Bowl commercial and some positive PR in the newspaper, a company was on branding easy street. What do consumers expect now? They want high quality content on your website and social media pages, a place to connect with a community of your company’s fans, and a high quality app for their smartphone or tablet.

It used to take a lot to hurt a company’s reputation – some big scandal involving executive corruption or a serious product quality issue. Now, one of your employees can say something ignorant or unpopular on their personal Twitter account, and the public holds the whole corporation accountable.

Innovation has become the keyword in the digital marketing world. Everyone wants something new and they want to be fully engaged. You can’t just provide a video for consumers. They want an interactive video. Even when visiting a store, consumers want to be able to interact on their mobile devices to get more. Last Christmas, one popular store in downtown Manhattan, well known for their fabulous window displays, included a display that allowed passers-by to create their own unique digital snowflakes to add to the scene. Consumers expect to continue to be wowed in ways like this, but they have higher expectation every season, putting additional pressure on digital marketers to understand the current trends.

Market Research That Makes A Difference

We’ve prepared a research study to help you understand the current state of the digital marketing industry: “5 Digital Trends That Could Make or Break Your Job.” If you’re not following these trends within the next 6-8 months, you may start losing serious market share. That’s how quickly things change in this industry. So read up, and be prepared for the rest of the 2014 digital marketing season!

Download the Free CONNECTED CULTURE Research Study

And please share it with your friends!

 

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Social Media Signals and Search Engines: How Much Really Counts?

If you’ve ever wondered about search engines and their ranking factors, you’re not alone. An entire industry full of SEOs ask themselves the same questions every day, but thankfully, because of that questioning, we’ve been able to learn a little bit more about how search engines consider websites for ranking. We know that quality content matters. We also know that a site’s backlink profile matters. But what about social media? How can a website’s social media presence tie into ranking?

When you think about it, it’s really no surprise that social plays into SEO. Google’s own webmaster guide to optimization puts an emphasis on offering value to users and social media is just another touch point for adding value. If you can create meaningful relationships online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+, why shouldn’t you be able to do the same on your own website?

As far as most SEOs can tell, there is in fact a direct correlation between a solid social media presence and better search engine visibility. As for how much visibility, that really all depends on what networks you’re participating in and how actively and effectively you’re doing so. For example, Google+ tends to rank very well within Google, so having a presence there is good for owning more SERP real estate. Plus, if you’re establishing Authorship, that can lead to higher clickthrough rates (up to 150% more, in fact, according to Catalyst). Another example is that of Facebook, which some SEOs suggest sends signals to search engines based on the number of shares and likes (i.e. the more popular you are on Facebook, the more visible in the SERPs). It’s all common sense, really. Being social and going viral are inherently connected and the more opportunities you have to connect with more people and motivate them to share, the more backlinks you earn, the more mentions you gain, the stronger your site looks, etc.

For your organization, the best thing you can do is to not worry so much about how social media signals play into ranking and instead, focus on building up a meaningful social presence. The SEO benefit will go along with a strong social presence – that’s a given, but by looking only at the SEO impact means that you’re missing out on the opportunity to offer value to customers, stakeholders, and audience members who can contribute positively to your online visibility, reputation, and level of trust within your industry.

Social signals and their weight algorithmically will always be in flux. We’ve seen this happen with certain types of links, content, and keyword usage – one can expect for social media to be affected by the constant change of user behavior and the search experience eventually. The number of Twitter followers, Facebook shares, or Pinterest repins are all important for measuring campaign success – but don’t put all of your eggs in that basket when trying to evaluate your search engine visibility. Just expect that being more social can mean more space in the SERPs.

Focus on creating valuable and unique social hubs for your advocates to connect and converse with you in the social sphere. The search engine visibility will come with time and continued effort.

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Tailoring Your Digital Marketing Plan to Your Organization

digital-marketing-plan-mindmapOne size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to digital marketing plans.  What works for one organization can be totally wrong for another. The best plans are those that are strategically developed with certain considerations in mind. The type of organization you have is perhaps the most obvious of these considerations. However, the size of your organization, the amount of available resources, and the types of customers are all equally important for determining how to best create a successful digital marketing plan that can be sustained long-term.

Let’s delve a little bit into each of these variables:

Your Organization Type
A B2B organization selling a new technology requires a dramatically different strategy for reaching their customers online than a small brick and mortar retailer. Some of the top priorities for a small retailer might be to establish a Yelp listing, a Facebook page, and to appear in Google Places results. For a tech company, it might be better to focus on establishing an industry-related blog or building up a healthy network on LinkedIn. The best digital marketing plans are created with a clear focus on the type of organization they support.

Your Customers
The goal of any digital marketing plan is to attract potential customers and keep them engaged after they buy. Considerable thought should go into where they congregate online and what information will resonate with them. This information will drive everything from the social media channels you use to the keywords chosen to help them find your organization in an online search.

Your Resources
Building a successful presence online requires consistent effort. If you’re lucky enough to have a fantastic in-house person or team to get your digital marketing efforts rolling, you’re one step ahead of most organizations. Though for the vast majority, investment is required to tackle both the development and the implementation of a plan.

It’s simply not realistic to think that you’re going to launch a full-scale Facebook ad campaign and hire the top PR firm if money is tight. One necessity in developing a digital marketing plan is taking an honest look at the resources you currently have and what amount you have available for online marketing. Like with every other aspect of business, budgeting is critical!

Limited Time – Get Your Free Digital Marketing Plan Workbook!
This month, I’m sharing with Connected Culture subscribers my workbook “Build a Winning Digital Marketing Plan” to help you create an online plan of action that will help you achieve new levels of success. Regularly priced at $9.95, you can download the workbook in PDF format right here for FREE.

In the workbook, you’ll learn valuable information about research, strategy, tactics, and measuring success to get more traffic, more customers, and ultimately more profit!  I encourage you to join the Connected Culture today and take advantage of this great, limited time offer.

Get Your Copy of “Build a Winning Digital Marketing Plan” now! 

 

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Google+ and SEO: Google Plays Nice With Its Products

crown_content

According to Trendstream's Global Web Index, Google+ is the second largest social network in terms of active users, but keep in mind that there is overlap between Google+ and YouTube in terms of active user stats. Not to mention, although it boasts a large number of "active" users (i.e. users who are logged in and take some kind of action), it's still nowhere near as active and as prominent as Facebook. Google+ seems to be the network that everyone talks about but no one is really active on, so, what's the big benefit?

The answer lies within Google's own search results.

Here's a simple test – do a search for "SEO" in Google. If you're logged into a Google account, you'll likely see a lot of your search engine results pages (SERPs) occupied by content from Google+, either a post or a profile from a SEO thought leader that showcases the typical result, along with Rich Snippets (a summary of content) and a profile photo. That space is where Google Authorship comes in, and that's a whole post in and of itself, so we'll save that for another time.

Pure and simple, Google likes to play nice with its own products and to encourage users to use the network, it's going to promote it in whatever channel it can. It integrates well into your main Google account dashboard (thus the overlap with popular services like YouTube), and now, with personalized searching playing heavily into your user experience, Google+ is here to stay in the results. But, what if you're not logged in and Google isn't taking your personal history into account? You really can expect the same results.

On a lot of queries, Google+ results will find their way in to the results pages, but when you think about it, it's not that much of a surprise seeing how Google Places and YouTube tend to rank highly. It makes sense to drive traffic to other Google services and in Google's mind, these are the places that are most likely to offer value for that query. Google's entire mission is to build a great user experience based on people getting the valuable and relevant information they want. Google+ is another hub for that and you can bet that Google will invest itself into making that network flourish – so why isn't it taking on Facebook in a major way?

There are lots of reasons and speculations behind why Google+ isn't seeing the interaction it should, despite what numbers Google has reported. The benefit of Google+ may not be so much in quantity, but in quality. Google+ is designed to further the connection made within Facebook in a few ways, the biggest success of which is that of Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts can be powerful tools for building a strong Google+ presence and we've already seen several great examples of effective Google+ marketing, such as Google Hangouts within Google+ for the release of The Muppets. Plus, Google+ has long been touted as a place for businesses to claim ownership of their brand on the network and many business owners can now take advantage of features specific to them, like Google+ Local listings.

SEO-wise, Google+ is powerful in a few ways. One, it gives you more search engine real estate, which is tough to compete for. This is especially true on keyword phrases relating to your own brand, which ties into your online reputation, yet another bonus. Google+ is also good for helping to establish Authorship, which can be an entire blog series in and of itself! If you're interested in learning more about Authorship (which we promise to cover in a future post!), here's the best place to get started.

To summarize: Google+ is sure to rank highly in Google by it's nature and if you're looking to own more real estate on the SERPs, it makes sense to invest at least the time to create a profile on the network. Depending on your industry and your goals for Google+, you'll want to evaluate just how much time you want to spend engaging – or in some cases, hanging out.

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Link Building – It’s More Than Just Earning Links, Part III

Building backlinks? You need to have the right strategy.

Building backlinks? You need to have the right strategy.

Ah, the biggest challenge of them all: earning high quality links. How can you do it? What makes a difference? How do you know that your organization is earning the links that it NEEDS – not just what’s easy to get.

The first step in trying to obtain quality links is to produce great content that people will want to actually link to. Now, content marketing strategy is a whole other topic of conversation, so it’s important to have a good strategy in place, whether it’s done in-house or contracted out. The goal with any content that you create is to offer value. Whether it’s an expert opinion, a how-to, or a topic of interest that can get your key stakeholders buzzing, the content you create is the key to unlocking strong links.

Okay, so you have great content – now what? Next, think about ways to get your content in front of more eyeballs. That means cross promotion through social media, email marketing, or other communications channels you have with you customers, clients, employees, etc. The more channels you have to distribute the information, the more touch points are created for your brand, which means more exposure and a greater chance for interaction, plus the opportunity to build more backlinks.

Also known as “link bait”, quality content has the potential to be shared through infinite channels. The first step is to put it out through your own. From there, it’s a matter of trusting and encouraging your audience to further distribute the information, whether it’s through forwarding one of your blog posts in an email to a friend or tweeting about your most recent infographic. The initial contact needs to be there – if you build it, you need to send it out before they come.

These are the best types of links you can earn, as it gives your organization authority, both in user perception and in the search engines. However, it’s tough. Sometimes you create something great, but it doesn’t stick. Other times, something that you’re only sort of happy with goes viral. It can be hit or miss. The goal is to spend time evaluating what works and what doesn’t and formulating your strategy from there. Again, content strategy is a whole topic on its own, but it needs to be recognized: you need to know what type of content you’re creating, who it’s for, why it’s being created, how it’s being promoted, and how you’re going to measure its success. From there, its’ easier to develop content that your audience wants, needs, and appreciates.

Outside of creating great content, there are some other methods of gaining high quality links, for example, you can volunteer to write guest blog posts and articles on other blogs or industry-related sites. You can also earn links through multiple types of media, such as giving a quote in a newspaper or magazine article (usually online editions of print publications feature links back to the source), creating freebies that are meant to be taken and shared (e.g. badges, freebies, templates), or participating in something offline that’s newsworthy. These links occur organically, much like creating great content, but it’s just another method for you to assert your authority, relevance, and value as an organization.

 

It’s always best to try ethical options, like these, instead of risking your site’s reputation with link schemes.

Does It All Really Matter?

Link building is extremely important for your site’s reputation.  As you know, gaining quality links boosts your search engine rankings, bring visitors to your site, attract more quality links (yes, good links often correlates with the potential to build even more good ones!), and ultimately connects you with people. It’s important to remember that when you receive a link from another person, you’re encouraging a relationship of mutual benefit. You create content that’s valuable, they put their trust in your knowledge. Strengthening your organizations network, both online and offline, through link building is an excellent way to help your business prosper and grow. It truly is just another example of how we are a connected culture.

Question

What type of link building have you tried for your organization? What worked and what didn’t? What types are you curious to try or want more information about? Share your experiences and questions with us in the comments!

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Link Building – It’s More Than Just Earning Links, Part II

Finding the right site? That's the tricky part.

Finding the right site? That’s the tricky part.

Essentially, every link that a site manages to gain can help strengthen the core strength of your site. However, it’s best to try and obtain links that are of a higher quality, and by that, we mean links that meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • Sites that have well-written, relevant content to your industry (Relevancy is king in all marketing, not just SEO.)
  • Sites that have a loyal and large subscriber base (An active email list is worth its weight in gold.)
  • Sites that have an active social media presence (Do they share content through social channels? Do they interact with the social stream?)
  • Sites that have a passionate, engaged community (hint: look through the site’s comments to see the quality of the conversation. If it’s good, you’ve found a good site to work with.)
  • Sites that make their relationships outside influences known (i.e. choose sites that are transparent. The worst thing you could do is go with a site that hides the fact that it accepts paid submissions or uses affiliate links.)
  • Sites that have a good reputation (Are they written by a real person/real people? Are they known for being a source of information about a particular subject?)
  • Sites that look professional (most site visitors DO judge a book by its cover.)

To put it simply, you want to build sites with the potential to influence, not only just future customers, but also organizational stakeholders. Having your link appear on an industry authority’s website places even more trust in your overall brand and reflects positively on your organization. In this case, the medium is part of the message.

These are the types of links that pass along meaningful value, not just for engines but also for public perception. According to a survey results from 2012 by Burst Media, nearly two-thirds of consumers who visit or read blogs say that their purchasing decisions are influenced by brand mentions or promotions within the blog’s content. Having your organization linked to on an industry-related or customer-specific blog can persuade as well as give your brand additional visibility. Sites that are linking to you help provide context about your own site and help indicate quality and popularity. However, not all links can be perfect.

Unfortunately, no organization has complete control over its link profile. Unnatural or damaging links will occur in the wild and for most organizations, it’s not a problem. However, excessive link exchanging, links to and from unrelated sites, building partner pages for cross-linking, and using automated programs are. These are the types of links targeted by Google’s most recent algorithmic changes and with good reasons. Sites that employ these tactics are usually lazy when it comes to offering value to users.

The main goal of any search engine is to provide searchers with value. If a site that’s spamming the engines ranks high, it diminishes the value of the results page overall. Search engines continue to put in more safeguards to prevent irrelevant sites from ranking well, but there are occasions when a link spamming scraper site slips through the cracks. But the overall goal is to NOT become one of those sites.

No matter how valuable you may feel your organization’s content is, it still comes down to quality at every touch point with your brand. Having great content but poor links may not hurt you, but it won’t help you either. It’s tempting to go the easy route to build links quickly as opposed to waiting for earned links, but the signals a get links quick scheme sends to stakeholders, customers, and search engines speaks negatively of your brand. Bad links, bad reputation, ala DecorMyEyes and JC Penney.

However, there are special cases when you don’t have control and something goes wrong. Suddenly, you see a ton of incoming links (hint: to see your backlinks, check out tools like Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer) and they’re mostly spam. They come from bad neighborhoods. They smear your brand’s reputation. Negative SEO campaigns have unfortunately become more prevalent in recent years and there are ways that you can fight it should you come into contact with one.

First off, do your research to see where the links are coming from (you may need to ask the help of an SEO specialist to investigate). Usually, you’ll find that a competitor is the root cause. Contact them directly to try to get them to take down the bad links.

If you believe your site’s reputation and ranking are being harmed by low quality links that you have no control over (i.e. you can’t find the cause or get the competitor to take them down), you can simply ask Google to not consider them when assessing your site using Google’s Disavow tool. Using the Disavow tool can be tricky, so again, you may need to consider the help of an SEO professional before you start disallowing links.

Once the link profile is cleaned up, you’ll want to focus on building high quality links back to the site, which we’ll dive into the specifics of in our next post.

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